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Swiss chard, chickpea and tamarind stew

April 10, 2011

Here’s part two of our Ottolenghi feast (see previous post).

4 tbsp seedless tamarind pulp
400g swiss chard (stalks and leaves) cut into 1cm slices
1.5 tsp coriander seeds
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 tsp caraway seeds
1.5 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish
1 tsp tomato purée
400g canned plum tomatoes chopped up with their juices
350ml water
1.5 tbsp caster sugar
400g cooked or tinned chickpeas
juice of 1 lemon
200g greek yoghurt
generous handful of coriander leaves
salt and black pepper

350g short-grain rice
20g butter
700ml water

Start by whisking the tamarind with about 3 tablespoons of warm water until it dissolves into a paste. Set aside. NB, this took ages!

Bring a medium pot of salted water to the boil and blanch the chard for 2 minutes. Drain in a colander.

Dry-roast the coriander seeds in a small pan, then grind to a powder with a pestle and mortar.

Next, put the onion, caraway seeds and olive oil in a large heavy-based pan and sauté on a medium heat for about 10 minutes or until the onion is soft and golden. Add the tomato purée and stir as you cook it for about a minute. Add the canned tomatoes, water, sugar, chickpeas, ground coriander, chard and some salt and pepper.

Strain the tamarind water through a small sieve into the pan. Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid and leave to simmer for about 30 minutes. When ready, the dish should have the consistency of a thick soup. You can adjust this by either adding more water or simmering uncovered so the excess liquid can evaporate. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

While the stew is cooking, put the rice, butter and a bit of salt into a medium pan and set on a medium heat. Stir to coat the rice with butter. Add the water and bring to the boil, then cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and leave to simmer on a low flame for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave covered for 5 minutes.

When ready to serve, spoon the rice into shallow soup bowls, creating a large crater in the centre. Add the lemon juice to the stew and stir, then put a ladle or two into the middle of the rice in each bowl. Spoon yoghurt on top if liked. Drizzle with oil and finish with plenty of coriander leaves.

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